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Maximizing Open Enrollment 

Sept 19, 2022

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Benefit Insights
Brought to you by:
Custom Benefit Consultants, Inc.



Maximizing Open Enrollment for Employees

Open enrollment can be an overwhelming time for both employers and employees. Employees can re-evaluate their current benefits and make changes for the coming year. At the same time, employers must choose a benefits package that balances cost and value and facilitate the enrollment process. Due to various factors, benefits are changing, placing new demands on employees and employers during open enrollment. To make the enrollment process as smooth as possible, employers must educate and communicate with their employees effectively.



The Open Enrollment Process

As employer-sponsored benefits transition to more voluntary, employee-paid, or employee-subsidized offerings, employees must assume more control in making smart decisions. Accordingly, employers should provide benefit information in an easy-to-understand format that provides employees with essential information and additional resources to help them make decisions. 


Here is a typical open enrollment process:


  • Notification—Employers send out an organization-wide announcement alerting employees that open enrollment will begin shortly.
  • Receipt of Information—Employers distribute information about benefit plans, selection information, and the appropriate forms to their workers. Employees may also receive personal information based on their elections from the previous year.
    • Employers may direct their employees to the company website, invite them to attend HR seminars, offer a benefit fair with the insurance company, or offer access to interactive decision-making tools.
  • Making Decisions—Employees research their benefits options and discuss with family to determine which benefits they will elect for the coming year.
  • Enrollment—Employees select their benefits.


Blocks arranged to say Process and Success at the same time.


Open Enrollment Strategies

The following suggestions, based partially on an employee survey conducted by MetLife®, can improve the open enrollment process for both employers and their employees: 


  • Establish solid communication between the HR department and employees. To do so effectively, conduct meetings and seminars and offer calculators, intranet education information, and benefits fairs. If your organization is smaller, conduct one-on-one meetings with employees to determine the type of information they need.
  • Survey your employee population to determine their priorities—product importance, the preferred method of communication, etc. By doing so, employers can identify what their employees want, and workers feel decision-makers have heard their needs.
  • Customize benefits and information resources to the life stages of your employees. For instance, if you have a large older population, feature more retiree benefits and long-term care insurance. It is also wise to communicate with your employees in the same way they communicate regularly. For example, if messages are received via postings in a common area, consider placing benefit information in that area as well.
    • By customizing your benefits to your population, you can increase employee satisfaction without increasing your spending.
    • Employees have an easier time selecting the benefits that are best suited for them and their families.
  • Provide easy-to-understand tools. These tools will lessen employee confusion and feeling overwhelmed while trying to make tough decisions.
  • Consider offering new benefits, even if they are voluntary, such as dental insurance, vision insurance, or benefits for prescription drugs. Employees tend to make more changes when they receive new options.
    • Even if employees must pay 100% for such voluntary options, they can still be attractive offerings. Since the employer negotiates the benefits, employees typically receive a group rate, which is significantly lower than purchasing them individually.
  • Make plan information as straightforward as possible while also being interactive. Employees should be able to understand their offerings to make more knowledgeable decisions.
  • Maintain all summary plan descriptions on your website, rather than directing employees to the insurance carrier site for information. This step provides easy access to information and makes the company appear more in control of the information.


This Benefits Insights is not intended to be exhaustive nor should any discussion or opinions be construed as professional advice. © 2008-2011, 2015, 2018 Zywave, Inc. All rights reserved.


Blog Tags:

Open Enrollment, Medical Insurance, Strategies, Employees




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